Karen had been scared for her life before. In fact she had been scared she’d die at least a dozen times since moving to Hell’s Kitchen. Yet she’d never once been sure she’d die. Not with one hundred percent certainty. Sure she’d thought maybe just maybe this time she wouldn’t make it out. There was still that sliver of hope that she’d survive and it was what kept her fighting. It was that hope that kept her going. This time was different. This time she knew she was going to die. There was no hope. No possibility of getting out of this.
So she stood in front of the Fake Daredevil. Stood between him and all the innocent people and knew with an absolute certainty she’d never had before there was no getting out of this. She was going to die. Daredevil—Matt wasn’t going to save her this time. He fought. He tried with every bit of his strength to save her. But you can’t save everyone. She’d dodged the bullet more times than she could count. She considered herself lucky she had lived even this long.
In those last seconds she found herself accepting this. Accepting the fact that yes she was going to die but at least it was only her. When she died he’d leave because he didn’t care about the other people. He was only there for her. She was going to pay for her sins and only her.
Close her eyes she breathed out. It was okay. She was okay with this.
Only instead of Daredevil’s weapon logging into her chest a gunshot rang out through the church. Karen’s eyes snapped open on reflex. She stared at the Fake Daredevil who looked just as shocked as her. The baton shattered into pieces between them.
A second shot rang out barely an instant later and the Fake Daredevil was hit in that moment of surprise. He went down hitting the floor hard. More shots rang out but the Fake swung himself around the spot where his head had been only seconds before exploded. More shots rang out but the Fake was now prepared ducking behind one of the pews.
“Karen!” a familiar voice rang out almost causing her knees to buckle out from under her in pure relief. “Karen move!”
She followed his orders without question grabbing the father and pulling him back out of the line of fire. Karen watched as The Punisher stepped towards the Fake arms raised up as he emptied the clips in an attempt to hit him. He marched towards him steady and unwavering. She had forgotten how terrifying a sight he could be. Black clothes and white skull painted across his chest. He was what terrified criminals. This sight right before her.
It was only when the telltale sound of and empty click of Frank’s gun did the Fake finally make his move.
A bible flew out from behind the pew hitting Frank directly in the forehead. He was sent backwards stunned by the impact allowing the Fake a chance to go at him. He was incredibly fast grabbing whatever was around; bits of wood, bibles, tiles, whatever was handy and lobbed them at Frank with precision accuracy hitting him. If it wasn’t for the body armor Karen was sure those shards of wood would have gone straight into him. It took Frank a second too long to recover and the Fake was right there in his face a fist colliding with his jaw so hard Karen could see the blood gush out from his lips.
“Frank!” she shouted in some sort of desperation as the Fake pounded on him.
It was the sound of her voice cutting through the silence that caused the Fake to start his head snapping back in her direction as if remembering his purpose for being there. This gave Frank his moment managing to get himself back in the game blocking punches and throwing them back. Both seemed equally matched getting in their fair share of licks. Neither getting the upper hand.
Matt was suddenly up on top of them and the two worked together in perfect harmony each attacking the Fake with brute force. They wailed on the Fake each getting their own shots in. Blood spilled from his noise as Matt knocked him back with such force he collided with one of the statues.
Frank spun back to Karen only to gesture at the nave which they now had a clear path to. Karen could see what Frank was going driving him back away from their escape route giving them a path. He was then back by Matt’s side as his second of distraction has allowed the Fake to grab some of the shards of rocks throwing them at the two vigilantes.
“Okay,” she kept her voice low. “This way.” She gestured making sure they all stayed down low as out of sight as possible.
The Father led out his flock keeping them close together Karen staying back to ensure they all made it out. She could see the worried glances he kept shooting her but Karen wasn’t about to leave until everyone else was out safely.
The Fake was barely keeping up with the two. One he might have been able to take out but the two of them he was just barely surviving. It was only when he broke off a whole wooden plank and smashed it over Matt’s head did he manage to get out from under them.
Frank stepped back and pulled out another gun no longer fighting up close rather just unloading it into the plank shattering the wood in the Fake’s hand. He was forced to back up away from Frank and towards the church doors. Only when he was at the exit did the Fake toss the remains at Frank and bolt.
Karen stood at the side exit just watching as the Fake fled from Frank. She could see the second of hesitation as Frank almost chased after him only to instead drag himself back into the church. Frank looked to Matt first who was dragging himself up into a standing position. He almost looked like he was about to help the man up before instead turning towards Karen. He crossed the distance to her in a matter of seconds wrapping himself protectively around her yanking her into his chest. She tossed her arms around him sobbing out in relief.
“Frank. You’re here.” She couldn’t believe it. “How? Why?”
“It was all over the news. The Bulletin. What happened. Did you think I would just sit on the sidelines while you were in trouble?” he questioned.
Karen nodded suddenly trembling in his embrace but she pulled back to get a look at his face. She hadn’t seen him since the hotel. She knew he was out there alive somewhere but seeing him now. Having him here. It took a weight off her shoulders she hadn’t even realized she’d been carrying around.
Frank’s eyes raked over her form looking for injuries before finally returning her gaze. Karen breathed out feeling all the energy she just had disappear. She really just wanted to collapse right then and there. Frank’s gaze softened his grip tightening as if to keep her standing up. She let him hold her weight falling into him letting her forehead meet his.
“Thank you,” she breathed out.
“You never need to thank me,” he told her. “I’ll always be here.”
They stood there in their little bubble Karen’s fingers digging into his biceps. All her tension leaving her body and even though she almost died less than five minutes ago she suddenly felt safe in a way she hadn’t since the hotel.
“Castle,” Matt’s voice jarred them out of their head space. “How are you—Why are you—What are you doing here?”
The moment was shattered and Karen instinctively took a step back but she didn’t let go of the man. Not completely. One hand still clutching at his arm.
“Karen was in trouble,” he answered simply.
“Yes, but why do you care?” Matt asked confused.
“Of course I care,” he growled out. “I’ve been keeping her safe. Where have you been Red?”
Matt’s head snapped up like he had been struck. “You’ve been in contact?”
Karen could see this turning into a fight and she could hear the sirens coming this way. “Guys can we not do this now? The police will be here any second. We have to go.”
The two exchanged angry looks or at least Frank did Matt tried. But the tension seemed to fade just a little as they realized the truth of her words.